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Sikh Canadian appointed CEO of Council for Arts

Michelle Chawla joined the Canada Council in 1995 and has served for three long decades.

Michelle Chawla (Image: Canadian Council)

Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez announced on May 8, 2023, the appointment of Sikh Canadian, Michelle Chawla, as the director and chief executive officer of the Canada Council for Arts. Chawla will replace Simon Brault and will hold office for a five-year term effective from June 26, 2023.

"In her role as the Council’s Director General of Strategy, Public Affairs and Arts Engagement, she is responsible for the executive leadership and direction of a wide range of functions including communications, strategic planning, international coordination and cultural diplomacy," the press statement said.

Chawla joined the Canada Council in 1995 and has served for three long decades, during which she has held several senior positions at the council, including corporate secretary and director of Strategic Initiatives, secretary-general for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and head of Arts Services. She has gained experience in arts and culture policy, program development, equity, corporate governance, government and stakeholder relations, transformation initiatives, international engagement and cultural relations.

"Michelle Chawla’s impressive leadership and extensive experience in various senior roles at the Canada Council for the Arts makes her uniquely qualified for this position. I am delighted that she will take on the role of Director and CEO to lead the Canada Council as it continues to support the Canadian arts sector and cultural experiences from coast to coast," the Minister of Canadian Heritage said.

The news release added that Chawla, a Punjabi, is passionate about working in an environment where all voices are heard and respected through arts and culture. She has a degree in communications from Carleton University.

The Canada Council for the Arts, governed by an 11-member board, is a public art funder that provides grants and services to Canadian artists and art organizations.